Friday, 18 September 2009

101 Dalliances

Dan Rhodes makes micro-fiction writing look pimps.

His lauded collection,
Anthropology, collects 101 stories, each approx 101 words (the word count isn’t rigidly adhered to), and over the course of 200 pages, breaks down the bulk of a billion novels about heartbreak, obsessive lovers, hapless male losers, and pouting femme fatales into hilarious, touching and poignant mini-stories.

I have been a doubter of micro-fiction for some time, but reading this collection has opened my eyes to the possibilities of the form. How often have you written a meandering story of some 2000 words, only to realise the idea could easily be encapsulated in one tight block of brilliance?

Rhodes takes the overdone subject matter, slathers his vignettes with wit, insight and pathos, creating a tight set fit for the modern ADHD reader.

I still abhor the prevalence of micro-fiction, esp. on the net, where everyone is meant to have the attention span of a Chelsea bimbo, but a unified collection like this is inspired. Had Rhodes written one of these pieces and posted it on a website somewhere, it would have faded into insignificance quicker than a bull’s belch – locking antlers forever with the million or so other attempts at sublime cleverness and Wildeian pithiness.

However, because Rhodes has sunk his gnashers into this mammoth undertaking – this obsessive pursuit of the ultimate conciseness – this project feels as deep as a novel or a short story.

So… hurrah to Rhodes to converting me to the form and saving me from a depressing world where anyone can commit 100 words to a 'submit' box and become a four-minute interwoob sensation. He may not have the length or breadth, but he certainly has the depth.


  1. Do poets fall into the microfiction interwoob derth?
    This is a neat concept...I am contemplating a microficition novel where all the chapters are 101 words long. Can I do it? Can I do it?

  2. No. Poets are exempt. Exempt from most things.

    You can do it! Do it now!

  3. I love microfiction (as you call it, drabbles is the word I prefer). I've found that 100 words is enough to tell most stories.
    And I am not sure if attention span, or lack of it, has anything to do with the length of the story - shorter stories actually require the reader to stay with them much longer.

  4. Interesting point, Rayna... though I'm not sure what you mean about shorter stories requiring greater reader investment. Surely the point is they're read instantly then forgotten instantly? Or do you mean the shorter story form lends itself to a more "timeless" feel?

    Yes, drabble is an odd word. Rhodes' stories miss the drabble limit by a few words. Pesky sod.